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Long gone are the days where people were happy with just a quick read through the newspaper. Today, most people spend many hours a day browsing the web, using social media to communicate with friends, read global news and share their own. Instagram, one of the most widely used social media channels, has more than 800 million monthly users and this figure is projected to surpass 1 million in 2019. This social network is more popular with teens and young millennials – this holds true in the US, where more than half of Instagram’s user base is between 18 and 29 years old.
The increase in the use of Instagram shows that it is regarded as a useful online tool that allows people to express their interests and allow others to get to know them better. In this article, we are diving deeper into what Instagram has to offer to people like you and me, but most importantly to an online instructor or a businessman.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a photo and video-sharing application and service that can be accessed on mobile, desktop or on any device that has internet connection and contributes content to pre-approved followers. The platform was launched by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010 and 2 years later was sold to Facebook. Since then, the platform managed to gain popularity and acquired over 800 million monthly users by the year 2017! The best part is that it’s likely to grow bigger.
How can people use it?
As a social media platform, Instagram uses high visual content and it’s famous for the simplicity of use. Everyone can share photos they take instantly (hence the name Insta-gram) or already-captured ones from their device’s gallery. Then, they can edit them as they please (ex. adding filters), tagging people from their network and posting them on their profiles adding geographical location or externally on other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.
Unlike other networking platforms, Instagram’s posts focus on beautifully-created visual content rather than text and it works similarly to Pinterest. This is a successful business model considering that 90 percent of information transmitted in our brains is visual, and that’s what we are more likely to remember as humans. Also, the Instagram team knows too well that the image is processed by the human brain 60,000 times faster than text and as such, it is safe to say that a single picture is worth 60,000 words.
As such, Instagram is a place where you go to find inspiration and read news about causes, people or companies that you are interested in.
How can Entrepreneurs and Creators use Instagram?
Instagram can be a powerful tool to use for every aspiring online instructor as it provides an opportunity to promote your school, to reach out to industry influencers, directly advertise their courses and engage new customers. What’s rather unique about the platform is that, in order to be successful you need to be a great storyteller while using pictures. Since there is not much text to deliver a message, every image needs to be able to deliver a strong message through a storyline, highly engaging visuals and strong keywords to go with it.
Recent reports show that these Instagram tactics can increase business profits. Statistics from Contently show that up to 72 percent of Instagram users report making purchase decisions based on something that they saw on the site. It also recognises Instagram as the top platform with the most influence on shopping habits.
Who is instagram for?
What’s great about Instagram is that the first thing you see on a post is the photo. Every photo has a story to tell and one way or another helps to build a human connection between the person who posts it and those who view it. This human connection leaves much to interpretation though it expresses an opinion, an emotion and a thought that allows the transmission of ideas and sparks inspiration.
Just like Pinterest, Instagram offers the opportunity to users to browse and utilise ideas while exploring academic and personal interests. Perhaps this is why so far it has been exploited by the younger population more and appealed to a rather demographic-specific audience.
Statista reports that Instagram’s distinct characteristics of its users are as follows:
Instagram videos attract more engagement than Vine, Instagram’s competitor which shows users preferences.
As an online instructor, it’s essential that you take into account these elements and explore Instagram’s features. This is going to help you choose the most appropriate tool, effect or feature that works well with your subject and media content. If you are offering classes on cooking, DIY, spirituality, gardening, sports & fitness and other popular subjects then Instagram is the ultimate tool for promoting your online school and increase your course sales.
A Checklist: Getting Started with Instagram
Going through the following steps can help you build your profile from scratch:
Step 1: Register a free account and edit your profile so that it best represents your school/business. Here, you will have two options, either to sign up with your email (or mobile phone) or through Facebook. Once you make your choice, create a username and password and then click ‘Done’.
Step 2: Make your profile relevant to your business/industry. Upload an engaging profile image and enter the information of your business, a small description of who you are and what you are offering.
Step 3: Add links to your other social media channels, your blog, business website or the platform from where you sell your courses. Invest in creating a community channel, follow leaders in the industry or people who are showing an interest in elearning or on popular e-course subjects.
Step 4: Start sharing posts. Generally, it’s a good idea to share company news and create a collection of photos. Don’t forget that you want to increase your customer appeal and not gain fans for your behalf, but for your school/business. Treat Instagram as you would treat Facebook and Twitter. You can be less formal, funny, tech-savvy or…nerdy. You can show how you and the rest of the team – if there are any employees or partners – are working to satisfy your customers’ needs.
Setting up a Marketing Strategy
Now, let’s get down to specifics. Coming up with a marketing strategy that aims to increase your course sales, isn’t hard work, it just needs to go through the most appropriate considerations and the best online marketing practices. For better results, check out the following tips.
1Building a large following:
Perhaps the first rule to success as far as it concerns social media is building a loyal audience. Luckily, there is a ‘recipe’ for that. Some of the best and easiest tactics is using the right keywords, the right filters and knowing the best times to post on Instagram. These however are the most obvious ones. If you want to take it to the next level, you might want to consider the following options:
Not all of these options are going to work for you and this means that initial trial and error as well as experimenting with Instagram tools is inevitable. However, identifying your audience and your competitors is essential. Engage with them from the beginning and check what they are doing. Since they are in your industry they are most likely to share content that you will find useful. Also, you can take inspiration from bigger accounts and reference them in content.
This is the core of Instagram practice and it’s important to get it down right. The type of photos you share and their quality is of huge importance as it has a direct impact on your following. As research shows, certain characteristics of the photo as described below, helps your posts perform better on Instagram:
The secret to a great Instagram post is crafting memorable content that advertises your brand and your products right on the spot. Also, don’t forget that consistency and monitoring results are important to your progress.
3Creating Shoppable Instagram Posts
Shoppable Instagram Posts is a very useful feature that you can use on Instagram for your business as it allows you to directly promote and sell your products on the site. This means that you get to take pictures of the products you sell or create photos for physical or non-physical ones.
You can do this for free when you become a Shopify Merchant. And surpise surprise, LearnWorlds is the only online course platform that provides a native Shopify Integration which means that you can connect your school with Shopify right away and take advantage of Instagram shopping in a matter of minutes! Check out this article from our Help Center for more info about connecting LearnWorlds with Shopify and vice versa.
This feature allows businesses to tag photos with their online courses (or any other products, for that matter) providing a link that redirects them on an Instagram page that offers more details on the course. By clicking ‘Shop Now’, users go on your online store where users can make the purchase. Potential payers can tap on the photo to view the price tag of the courses/products you list.
In order to enable Shoppable Instagram posts you need to comply with the following requirements:
Once you comply with these rules go through the following steps to set up your Facebook Shop and connect Instagram with your online store:
Step 1: Connect your Instagram account to your Facebook page
Go to Settings on your Facebook page’s for your shop and click Instagram. Then, go back to Shopify clicking the (+) next to the sale channel to add your Instagram channel to your store and confirm your choice. Finally, you will have to wait for Instagram to review your store, which might take up a few days.
Step 2: Enable the ‘Shopping’ feature
Once your shop is approved, go to Instagram Options to enable the Shopping setting. After posting your first 9 photos, the ‘Shop Tab’ will appear on your Instagram profile where you can create a product list collection.
Step 3: Choose a photo and upload it on your profile
When you start using Instagram for business, your photos need to be chosen carefully. According to Some of the best types for selling products are a) lookbooks – that work well in fashion, beauty or cooking industry, b) using models – creating a ‘shopping catalogue’ and tagging the names of the models (after getting permission) c) lifestyle/action photos – these are naturally looking photos that show your product(s) in action, e) product shots – are specifically taken for advertising purposes d) collection carousel – two or more photos shown together through a slideshow.
Step 4: Tag your product
Finally, go το Options to tag products and choose the Course/product you want to tag from your Facebook Shop.
…And that’s it! You are now ready to start selling your courses on Instagram!
You can also read more on instagram sales in this guide from OsiAffiliate.
8 Tools to help you hit the ground running with Instagram
Apart from Instagram tools, there also some free applications that you can use that will come handy when you start using Instagram for business purposes. As a final tip, we offer the following suggestions that you might want to check out:
1. VSCO – a useful tool for creating content that works as a photo editing platform and a social media network.
2. Repost – a tool that allows you to repost photos and videos that you like on Instagram while giving credit to the original Instagrammer.
3. Canva – a design program that allows you to create custom-made banners, backgrounds and other types of images tailored to your industry.
4. Buffer – a great tool for scheduling your posts (on certain dates and times) when you have your content ready. Connecting Instagram on Buffer requires that you have a Pro account.
5. Photoshop Express – an editing tool that offers a variety of unique features that allow you to enhance the quality of your photos.
6. Socialrank – offers the easiest way to identify, organise and manage your audience on social media.
7. Wishpond – a tool that allows you to utilise contests and draw the attention of your followers providing them the chance to engage with you.
8. Curalate Like2Buy – a tool that creates a shoppable gallery allowing users to read your stories, shop your Instagram feed, reserve a room and take additional actions on your Instagram posts.
As you can see, using Instagram as part of your social media marketing strategy can boost your course sales, inform your audience about the products and services you offer and promote your online school altogether.
Whether you have an Instagram account or not, I would say that it’s worth investing your time and money – if need be, to reach out to potential customers who are in need of what you offer!
Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.